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CEO & Editor-in-Chief of First India & Bharat24, Dr Jagdeesh Chandra during The New JC Show, speaks to Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur about how he perceives the ‘Modern Chanakya’ of Indian Politics, Amit Shah as the Union Home Minister, how the Narendra Modi Government firmly supports the principle of Freedom of Speech, the laurels our players brought to the nation by winning a slew of Medals in Commonwealth Games, the plans to open 1,000 Khelo India Centres to carry forward PM Narendra Modi’s idea of a ‘New India’; How the appointment of 400 Coaches in 9 months is a rare feat achieved by the Government, planning for the 2024 Olympics & much more... (Part—II)
After the removal of Article 370, people consider there are two ‘Yugpurush’ i.e. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. How do you perceive Shah as a Home Minister?
Anurag Thakur: I firmly believe that when there is a leader like Narendra Modi in the country, who can take decisions and an individual like Amit Bhai, who everyone addresses as the ‘Modern Chanakya,’ know what strategies are to be made. Let me reveal something here. It was a weekend on August 3 and 4, 2019. About a week before, we were all told that no MP would go to their constituencies or homes as there would be a training, since a new Parliament had been formed. And I was made the head of that training to co-ordinate the entire event. I was handling the stage management and I raised the team for it as the party had given me the responsibility. PM Modiji and Party President Amit Bhai, who was also the Home Minister, had to come for the Opening Session. Amit ji was to address the Opening Session however, he called me up in the morning saying that he would not be able to address the gathering so I made the required changes in the programme. He could not come for the programme on August 3 although he was in the Parliament, but was busy with other works. I met him in the evening and he said that he will see, if he can come on August 4 before the concluding ceremony, where PM was scheduled to address. During lunch on August 4, I asked him, if I can schedule his address, to which he replied that he won’t be able to address the programme. I was unable to fathom what had happened that he was not coming. But during those 2 days, Amit Bhai was engrossed in devising ways to remove Article 370 and 35 (a), how to go about it, the strategy, the legal aspect and how to get it passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and especially the Rajya Sabha, where we did not have a full majority. Despite all this, they got it done and this was only possible because of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. That is why I say, history has been written.
So, as Minister of Information and Broadcasting, what do you think has been the highlight or major step taken by you over the past one year?
In such a short span of time, where people fail to start a channel in 9 months, you have launched a channel in 90 days. Bharat24 has been set up and has started to function for which, I extend my congratulations. I have complete faith that Bharat24 will provide the right news to the people.
How will you regulate social media?
The Press Council of India is there for Print Media. For Electronic Media, there is a threelayered structure, where one has to regulate themselves. Similarly for Digital Media, there is a three- layered structure. Firstly, the platform itself does it, then there is a body that does it and on the third layer is the interdepartmental committee, which does this work. On the third level, not many cases come to the fore, but I have taken a proactive stance on it and such YouTube channels, accounts and web portals that were always on the lookout to divide India, and even used to indulge in propaganda against friendly nations to India, we have brought such mediums down. Not once, but four times, I took a decision and brought down over 95 such channels that were working with a nefarious agenda, even if they had a viewership of millions.
You pointed out right that in the name of fact-checking, people cannot be allowed to spew venom in society.
PIB is a fact-checking authority and any person from the nation can go on their social media or their website and put up a piece of news to check if it’s authentic or not. But some people, under the garb of factchecking, try to incite people, that should not happen. Nation’s security is paramount. Media is free, in fact, I always stress on Freedom of Speech, BJP does so and the Narendra Modi Government ensures that there is Freedom of Speech. But no one has the right to break the nation through propaganda. If your agenda is to break the nation, then India is supreme for us, we will not let such things float. Yes, if you have to say something against Anurag Thakur, Amit Shah or even Narendra Modi, we do not mind. But to break India, if you work under an agenda, and do not follow the law, then, action will be taken against you.
How did this miracle of medals occur under your leadership in the Commonwealth Games?
This time, because there was a challenge due to Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the Tokyo Olympics took place when Covid-19 was at its peak and I know how difficult it was to send the players and to get them trained, there were other issues too. Despite this, our athletes won several medals, Neeraj Chopra won a ‘Gold Medal.’ This has been the first time in 121 years that we have won a ‘Gold Medal’ in Athletics. Apart from this, our 19 athletes went for the Paralympics and we won 19 medals. We won 16 medals in Deaf Olympics. Commonwealth Games were also a challenge since Shooting was not a part of it, while last time, we had 16 medals in Shooting. So straight away, we can subtract those medals. But in spite of that, we won so many medals this time around, which is a major achievement. But what is the reason behind this? PM Modi’s schemes like Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme. We pay for all the expenses of elite players like food, accommodation etc, then their participation in national and international events is paid for by the Government of India, and other than that, we give Rs 6 lakh to such players for financial security. Apart from this, we select 3,000 athletes from across the nation and spend Rs 5 lakh per athlete for their training, etc. We also give them Rs 1.20 lakh per annum for their other uses. We are running 23 National Excellence Centres and these are apart from the State Centres. We are going to open 1,000 Khelo India Centres of which, permission has been given to 590 centres and retired athletes will be appointed as coaches. Additionally, we have appointed 400 coaches in 9 months which is a feat, never been accomplished before. Through this, we have carried forward PM Modiji’s idea of a ‘New India.’ Also, what Modiji does like speaking to players before they head out to some tournament, if needed, he speaks to them during the tournament also whether it was the hockey team or now during Commonwealth speaking to Puja, motivating the athletes when needed is what we need to learn from Modiji. And when they return, hosting them for tea, converse with them and motivate them further, there are perhaps not many Prime Ministers in the world, who like PM Modi, have worked to keep our players motivated and upbeat.
So what is the planning for the 2024 Olympics?
Our players will perform their best there as well. We have made budget provisions to provide them training wherever they need it, be it India or abroad. Players will not face any problems and the national federations will play their roles effectively.
During the show #JCwithAnuragThakur trended top All-India on Twitter